1– Anniversaries time -p.1
2– Katrina disaster response -p. 1
3– A new year's gift from LC -p. 1
4– Cooperation with the LIPA group -p. 1–2
5– News from our Michigan partners -p. 2–3
6– Reorganization of digital collections -p. 3
7– Three often-asked questions -p. 4
February of 2006 marks the 3rd anniversary of our digital initiative, and September brings the 30th anniversary of LLMC's founding. So time is moving on; although we still feel like newcomers, in particular in light of the fact that 2006 also marks the 100th birthday of our principal professional association, AALL. We will mark our cyber-anniversary by raising a toast later this month as LLMC-Digital passes the 10,000-volume mark for on-line content. And LLMC will help to celebrate AALL's 100th by doing something special to add to the success of the St. Louis AALL convention. As to LLMC's 30th, we don't plan anything special, except to ponder the AALL 2006 motto, “Pioneering Change,” and note that in 5 more years LLMC will have helped law libraries make change for a third of the lifetime of AALS.
Katrina Disaster Response
In the months that have passed since the awful events on the U.S. Gulf Coast, several subscribers have asked if there wasn't something that LLMC could do to help in the relief efforts after Katrina. We haven't reported on this matter to date because for some time we lost all contact with our two New Orleans subscribers: Tulane University Law Library and the Law Library of Louisiana. So initially we didn't know what we could do that might be useful. Our plan now is to give complimentary 2006-07 renewals for LLMC-Digital to both named institutions and any other subscribers subsequently discovered to have suffered similar disruptions. The gesture, which will be made in the name of the entire LLMC-Digital subscriber community, will express our intention, both to recompense these libraries, both for time unused during 2005-06, and also to do our bit to help speed their general recovery.
A New Year's Gift from LC
We are delighted to report that in this New Year LLMC will be engaging in some very useful cooperation with the Law Library of Congress; which is, of course, a longtime member of our Consortium. It so happens that, for a project of its own, LC has digitized a large number of Native American tribal charters and by-laws. This is the same class of material which LLMC-fiche spent almost a decade assembling and filming back in the 1980s. (Endnote 1) As it happens, LC is not planning to mount these tiffs on its own web site anytime soon. So we asked if we could, on a non-exclusive basis, share their tiffs and mount them on LLMC-Digital, making them promptly and widely accessible. Last week we received word that the tiffs will be made available immediately. Since we anticipated this outcome, we already have done much of the spadework necessary to facilitate processing the LC tiffs quickly through our production system. If all goes well, we expect to see most of the LC Native American images going up on the site in March or April.
All subscribers owe a great debt of gratitude to our friends at LC for this generous gesture. Not only have they hastened our access to this valuable literature by years, but they also have set an example at the highest level of the profession for how we can all benefit when we share content.
Cooperation with the LIPA Group
As detailed in past newsletters, (Endnote 2) LLMC has been working with the Legal Information Preservation Alliance group (LIPA) in developing an on-line, universally-accessible data-base for the tracking of hardcopy preservation copies of legal and law-related print materials. It bears flagging that work on the
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Preservation Database builds on work which LLMC already had underway for its own purposes. We long ago recognized the need for a publicly-accessible database which would enable our subscribers to keep track of all aspects of our fiche and digital programs; title by title, volume by volume, down to the page level, and for all formats. So we had a database under development which could eventually replace our printed fiche catalogs. The goal was to ensure that everything one might want to know about an LLMC title would be assembled in one publicly-available place on-line.
With our own database project already in development, we were in a good position to respond when approached by the LIPA group for help in developing a database usable to track the details of their print preservation program. It turned out to be relatively simple to expand the LLMC tables to include the information LIPA wants to track. We committed to LIPA to develop a prototype and have it available by the 2006 AALS. That deadline was met, and the LIPA group recently approved the prototype and called upon its members to cooperate by submitting data. The prototype is available for the inspection of interested parties at www.llmc.com, (Endnote 3) a non-public test site. We are making it available in its test version so that interested parties can provide suggestions and input; both as to the LLMC portion and also the LIPA segment.
LLMC's IT staff is now refining the proto-type database, aiming to have a final version ready for LLMC Board review and approval in April. Assuming that approval, the final version of the database will be unveiled for general use in May. We expect it to be particularly useful for the many libraries among our subscribers, who need and have been asking for an organized way to conscientiously deaccession material. This tool should provide them with an easy way to be sure that they are not throwing out the last copy of something.
News from Our Michigan partners
Our technical partners at the University of Michigan have just finished a big year. There have been many changes and improvements to both our site and their supporting infrastructure. Here, in text provided by several colleagues at Michigan, are some highlights.
— Infrastructure: The Digital Library Production Service working with the Scholarly Publishing Office and Core Services has finished work on a new version of its software, DLXS. The work has taken over a year, and involves a number of significant changes. Much of this is behind the scenes and not visible to users, but the new version of DLXS has more options for interface design and will be easier to maintain. With our new software, we are harnessing the power of new standards and technologies, including XML, XSLT and Unicode. As part of these changes, we have brought our interface in line with the World Wide Web Consortium guidelines for web content accessibility (level "A"). Also of special note are some interface improvements. DLXS now supports Unicode, allowing for the search and display of special characters and non-Roman alphabets. The new version of the software also features improved bookbag functionality, including dynamic updating of the bookbag status in a message in the upper right hand corner of the browser screen. The new system also has more flexible and automatic browsing features; these are not automatically applied to the LLMC publications, so you won't see this
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in action right away, but we hope to take advantage of this change in the coming year. In addition, Core Services has changed the underlying architecture of our system, adding processing power and storage. Users will notice that our freely available text collections and publications such as the Making of America already are more responsive. Our restricted text collections, such as LLMC-Digital, will join this new system in early 2006. (Endnote 4)
— Switching format for URLs: Starting last month the University of Michigan changed the format of the URLs for titles on LLMC-Digital. This change may have gone over the head of most users, but it will have been very apparent to catalogers. Formerly the URLs for LLMC titles were constructed by adding our LLMC numbers to a standard base. For example: the URL for the U.S. Supreme Ct. Rep. is http://name.umdl.umich.edu/78050. URLs for new titles will have a new base, i.e., http://hdl.handle.net/2027/lmc., to which the 5-digit LLMC number will be appended. For most of us this change will not be a big deal. No changes are needed for the LLMC-Digital URLs which may already have been entered into your local catalogs. Both versions of our URL format will work, with searches using the earlier version being "redirected" by Michigan into the new system. This is just another one of those things prudent programmers make to be ready for future technical developments. Over the long run it will result in our URL system being, in the words of our programmers, "more robust.” It is also a change that met the request of some of our subscribers that we move to a more "Persistent” URL.
Reorganization of the Digital Collections
Starting with the February updates, due within days, the LLMC-Digital home page will reflect a major reorganization of the separate LLMC collections. (Endnote 5) Looking ahead to when there will be many more titles on the site, we saw that tying some of the foreign titles to our fiche-era “Common Law Abroad” (CLA) project would increasingly become technically unworkable. It also is likely to confuse new users, who will never have heard of CLA. Therefore, we decided to cut the knot now by phasing out the CLA concept on-line. In the future all single-jurisdiction foreign materials will be grouped under their country names. Multi-jurisdictional CLA titles will be group-ed in a new category called “British Empire Studies.” With this change the potential number of collections on the site will grow to about 260. To make that visually manageable, the list of collections on the home page has been reorganized under a main-menu/sub-menu format. We think that most users will find the new system more intuitive.
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Three Recently Asked Questions
Some of the matters discussed below have been covered in past newsletters. However, with new subscribers coming on board, it appears that the word still needs putting out.
— “Can our law school share LLMC-Digital with other libraries on campus?” Very definitely yes. A bonus feature of each law school library's subscription to LLMC-Digital is that all other units of its parent institution are entitled to access the service subject to the following constraints. Access for members of the parent institution’s wider community (faculty, students and staff) is permitted, both through on-site use at any of its libraries, and also through remote access via a controlled IP system which restricts access to bona fide students, faculty and staff. Members of the general public are permitted access to the service on a walk-in basis at any of the parent institution’s libraries. Participating library units elsewhere on campus should be advised that LLMC-Digital is a non-profit consortial undertaking, which is highly dependent upon mutual trust and cooperation among its members to help maintain the service's core subscription base. In keeping with that spirit of mutual trust and cooperation, sister-library units should be asked to use their best efforts to restrict access obtained through their agency to the parent institution’s community as described above.
— “Why can't I print more than one page at a time?” You can, but that option only shows up when you are in the PDF "view" format. This format makes the images appear on your screen slower (which is why it is not the default setting), but it is definitely the recommended format for best-image printing. To get to PDF view, start by calling up one of the pages of a desired title. Then go to the view-option box located in the upper left-hand corner of your screen. Change the setting to “PDF”. A page-range option, with a limit of 100 pages, will appear in the top middle of your screen. Fill in the numbers for your desired range, click on print, and go out for a cup of tea.
— “Our Reference Staff is finding it difficult to maintain a list of all the titles included in LLMC. Do you have a list in print?” The lists changes by the month, so we can’t keep it in print. However, we do provide two separate, but linked, lists on our corporate web site: www.llmc.com. Go the home page and click on the “LLMC-Digital” tab. This will get you to the LLMC-Digital Table of Contents page. On that page: The first tab takes you to the “complete” title list; “complete” because it contains extensive holdings and cataloging information. The second tab takes you to an abbreviated short-title-only list, which may be more suitable for printing out, although it's already long now and will continually and rapidly get much longer. Both lists are updated monthly. Note that, at the bottom, the first list also has a button for “Log of Past Monthly Additions.” This feature was put in at the request of our cataloger friends, who wanted something to help those who may miss a month or so of updates due to vacation, etc. Incidentally, these lists are also linked from LLMC-Digital itself. Just go to the home page and click on the little “Info” symbols to the right of the collection names. You will be taken to the list for that specific collection. However, at the top of each specific collection list is a URL which will take you to the complete “Content Status Table.”
Some among our subscriber community have expressed puzzlement about our choice of George Washington University's Jacob Burns Law Library (GWU) as the first location for an off-site LLMC book scanner. That, no doubt, is because few knew that GWU boasts an extensive collection of Civil and Canon Law works, in particular many superb and rare French texts. An interesting description of the GWU collection appeared recently in the Winter Issue (No. 76) of France Magazine published by the French-American Cultural Foundation and issued quarterly by the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. Free copies are still in stock at the Embassy. Call Natalie Radolinski at 202-944-6069.
1.) For the list of LLMC's fiche titles, see our printed catalog, Section 10, pp. 1–13 (Remember, it's also available on www.llmc.com.) There are a total of 508 titles involved in the combined LLMC/LC lists. The LC collection includes 83% of our titles, while also adding some 35 titles that we don't offer in fiche format. These latter may take a bit more time to make it on-line, since they will involve more complicated cataloging.
2.) See Issues #12, pp. 2–3; #14, p.2, para. 1; & #15, p. 4, para. 1.
3.) A few clicks soon provide an idea of how the database will work. Go to the hidden test site, www.llmc.com, and click on the “Search” tab and then on “U.S. States”. Check out in order: Alabama Supreme Court, Alaska Supreme Court, and Arizona Supreme Court. This will provide enough variety to convey the general idea. Note that in the tables for each title the LLMC data is in blue on the left, while the LIPA data is in yellow on the right. The LIPA columns can be expanded to include any number of libraries per title. For now we are mounting only LLMC data and data provided by Columbia (the lead LIPA library). Once the database is made public, other LIPA libraries will start adding their data. Information posted to the site will be filtered through LLMC to maintain the integrity of the data. However, our agreement with LIPA is that it will set standards governing its members' data. LLMC will merely post the LIPA-libraries' records as submitted.
4.) As usual, most changes involve tradeoffs. One possible downside stemming from the changes in system architecture relates to user statistics. Starting last October Michigan could no longer collect information on the number of user sessions. Session information used to be stored on Michigan's servers. Now it has been moved to a cookie stored on the user's machine, and Michigan no longer can access it. So, while the "user sessions" column in your statistics report must be retained for historical purposes, there will be no new data in that column. Michigan is working on inserting explanatory text to alert folks to this. The system change has countervailing benefits. The programmers like it because, on the system end, it's a lot less work under the hood. It also makes session information more secure, since it's much harder now of an outsider to steal it; a feature which had been requested by a number of libraries. From the user perspective there are also some advantages. Most notably, the session information (e.g., search history and book-bag) is no longer lost when one goes to a static html page, (e.g. checks the weather) in the middle of a session. Now the information stays in place until the browser is closed or the session has been inactive for several hours. Finally, the "sid", which used to appear in Michigan's URLs is now gone. This makes the bookmarks more durable. Formerly, because sessions are periodically flushed from Michigan's servers, users who book-marked a URL with a "sid" found that their bookmarks were broken.
5.) The main reason why the site is organized into smaller collections is to speed response time. Those wanting to review the details in depth are referred to Issue 3 of the Newsletter, p. 3, ftnt. 3.
Joint LLMC/OCLC ad for OCLC WorldCat Collections